Is any company too big to fail? That was the question of the day facing political leaders in September 2008 as the market was rocked by a series of announcements from AIG and other companies concerning what some experts would call catastrophic losses from mortgage-backed securities. AIG happened to be the ringleader of those companies as it announced that it lost nearly $25 billion in one quarter. The U.S. government quickly discerned that the world markets would suffer great difficulties if AIG was allowed to go under and pledged billions of dollars to AIG in an effort to stabilize worldwide markets. When all was said and done, it cost the American taxpayers nearly $182 billion to save AIG from the results of its own actions.
A scenario like the one which AIG engendered leads to an interesting question; who are the stakeholders of AIG, who stood to benefit, who stood to suffer and who made the decisions that brought about such a calamity in the first place? The name at the top of the letterhead for AIG at that particular time was Robert B. Willumstad. As this paper attempts to discern who has influence as a stakeholder, his name certainly has to be listed as a primary force or focus, except for one little item; he had only been chairman for approximately three months before he was forced out by the federal government. The question remains then; who were the stakeholders then and who are the AIG stakeholders now?
Certainly one of the primary stakeholders is the government of...
Whereas previously the government was an external stakeholder with small influence on a publicly owned entity's day-to-day operations, it can now be described as a 92.5% owner of AIG with enough influence to terminate Willumstad as the CEO and replace him with their own director; Edward M. Liddy.
That's a lot of influence, perhaps more than was necessary to assume in this specific case, which is where the next primary stakeholder comes into play; Mr. Barack Obama and his administration. Though he was only following the same path that the previous administration had initiated concerning AIG, the impetus was all his, as was the risk of being perceived as being too heavy-handed, too big government, too socialistic even though he had not even taken office. Obama and his administration set the tone early and often as they commanded the route for AIG, and AIG obligingly followed.
Additional stakeholders, then and now, are the American people, and though they could wield influence far greater than any other group, they are relatively helpless due to their lack of concern, their state of confusion, or their total unconcern about the path which Obama and AIG are treading. The American public, though derided by liberals as being dumb as rocks, are actually pretty intelligent. In the case of AIG, the American public saw the heavy-handed measures of the current administration and decided that caution was the better part of valor. For the most part, the public stood on the sidelines with no voice.
Additional stakeholders were the shareholders who had forked over hard-earned money to purchase shares of AIG and who, over the course of a very…
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